Teaching Strategies


No matter the modalities they were teaching in, many faculty were making more use of technology than they had in the past and figured out ways to make the most of the technologies they decided to incorporate. 

In-Person: Full Class & Alternating Groups
Online Synchronous
Online Asynchronous 

In-Person: Full Class & Alternating Groups 

  • Options for group work: 
    • Google Docs: Have students collaborate in Google Docs to replace group work.
    • All on Zoom: Have all students in the classroom bring headphones and get on Zoom to facilitate group work.
  • Options for discussion
    • Start talking in Google Docs: Have students answer a prompt in a Google Doc during the first few minutes of class (while you deal with administrative tasks) to prime the pump and get everyone participating.
    • Polls: Use polls to get insight into student understanding without battling to hear students. 
    • Meet remotely: Meet remotely (over Zoom) for discussion-heavy and group-work-heavy class periods. Some instructors split their regular weekly schedule into classroom sessions and remote sessions (e.g. for a class meeting three times a week, lecture in person twice a week and host a Zoom discussion once a week).
  • Whiteboard alternatives: 
    • Google docs for collaborative note-taking: Have students take collaborative notes in a Google Doc to surface questions they have throughout the class period. Devote the last few minutes of class to going back through the notes and addressing any questions.
  • Pedagogical approaches for having absent students participate on Zoom (while some instructors made this work, others found asynchronous and/or less labor-intensive solutions preferable, as is evident in the “Embrace simplicity” section):
    • Have in-person students “host” remote students: Assign a student who is in the classroom to “host” any students on Zoom and task that person with signing into Zoom and making sure classmates are brought into discussion by keeping an eye on the chat. In classes with alternating groups, students can be paired with a peer “buddy” from the other group. Each class period, all students get on Zoom and the in-person student is responsible for communicating with and raising questions from their remote counterpart. 
    • Minimize Zoom participation: Have students attend on Zoom and encourage them to ask questions if they have them, but mostly absolve them from robust participation, and allow them to engage more robustly when they are in person. 
    • Make Zoom participants the focus: Put the focus on the students in Zoom, by engaging in conversation with them, with in-person students chiming in, based on the observation that students who were on Zoom were more likely to disengage.
  • Technological strategies for having absent students participate on Zoom: 
    • Split screen: Project the online students on the classroom screen and project any other materials you might need to share (slides, website, etc.) through Zoom’s “split screen” option (works best with 4 x 3 slide ratio) or leave the thumbnail overlay of students in the far right part of your slides and plan for that space to be blank (works best with 16 x 9 slide ratio). 
    • Two devices: Log into a Zoom account on your laptop and a second device. Point the second device at you. Plug an external camera (pointed at the students in the classroom) and microphone to the laptop so that online students can see and hear everyone in the classroom. 
    • Classroom audio system: Hook the Zoom students into the classroom’s audio system and have all students on Zoom chat to respond to questions and engage with one another. 
    • All on Zoom: Have students in the classroom bring headphones and have everyone get on Zoom to facilitate discussion and group work more naturally.
    • Mute audio: Ask students in the classroom to mute themselves on Zoom unless they are speaking to minimize feedback.

Online Synchronous

  • Options for student engagement: 
    • Jamboard: Use Jamboard for fun multi-media brainstorming activities. 
    • Guest speakers: Without the need to travel, you may be able to bring in previously inaccessible guest speakers.
    • Chat: Start each session by asking students a question, giving them a minute to reflect, and then add their response to the chat. Use those comments to kickstart the conversation and use the chat at regular intervals throughout the session to solicit comments and questions. 
    • Polls: Use polls to anonymously get some information from students and check their understanding as a way of breaking up a lecture or kicking off discussion. 
    • Self-selecting breakout rooms: Allow students to self-select their own breakout rooms to encourage participation. 
    • Kahoot: to gamify polls/quizzes 
    • Videos: Stream videos during sessions to introduce content as a way of taking a break from slides. Note that some copyright-protected videos may not be shareable through zoom but linking through YouTube is possible, so make sure to test before doing this.
  • Whiteboard alternatives: 
    • Google Doc: Take notes in a Google Doc.
    • Whiteboard app: Use a whiteboard app on a tablet that you also use to login to Zoom and screenshare.
    • Physical whiteboard: Get a physical whiteboard you can comfortably use on screen.
  • Options to improve Zoom user experience:
    • External mic: Use an external mic to improve sound quality; test to make sure all your students can hear you. 
    • Ethernet: Create a more stable internet connection by using an ethernet cable instead of wifi if you can.
    • Two screens: If you can, create a setup with two screens so that you can see students in gallery view while sharing slides or looking at other materials.

Online Asynchronous

  • Annotate lecture videos: Have students use Perusall to comment on video lectures for their “participation” grade.